Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. Computer engineer Alaa Abdulraheem’s invention in the field of cosmetics is winning her accolades around the world.
Public places in Bahrain could soon have coin-operated nail polish dispensers, if tech entrepreneur Alaa Abdulraheem has her way. The young Bahraini’s business idea, a nail polish mixer, has bagged the third place at the global finals of Microsoft Imagine Cup in Seattle.
Earlier in May, Alaa, who was the national champion, bagged the first place and prize money of US$10,000 at the Pan-Arab semi-finals of Microsoft Imagine Cup 2014 in Doha. She has created a mobile and PC application through which users can control her electronic nail polish-producing machine. The app allows users to choose from a vast colour palette, share and compare shades, and scan their outfits to get the exact shade of nail colour. Alaa sits down with us to review her future plans.
Woman This Month (WTM): How do you intend to take this idea forward?
Alaa Abdulraheem (AA): I want to launch different versions of the nail polish mixer commercially — both for adults and children which will be available at toy stores. There will be a second version for nail spas and salons, churning out higher volumes. We could also have coin-operated vending machines that will dispense a cup of nail polish along with a single use brush for a quick fix in public places.
WTM: How did you come across this idea in the first place?
AA: One afternoon, I came home to find my sister surrounded by 127 bottles of nail polish and yet she couldn’t find the exact shade to match her outfit. Taking note of her frustration, I told her that we’d have to ‘manufacture’ the exact casino shade for her. The more I thought about it, the idea began to take shape. Eventually, I had to build three versions of the machine to get it right.
WTM: What are your plans for the prize money?
AA: I built the last version of the nail polish mixer with the prize money I’d received in the earlier rounds. This time, I think the money will go towards the seed capital for my new company.
WTM: Science and technology are not popular study choices among young girls. How did you get started?
AA: I agree that science demands a great deal of patience and perseverance. For my part, I come from a family of doctors and engineers. I was six when my mother showed me a science encyclopedia. Then, I remember visiting the science centre in Bahrain as a 12-year-old. That trip made a lasting impression on
WTM: What do you wish to accomplish in the coming years?
AA: I’d like to set up an electronics factory in Bahrain to manufacture machines locally. My interest lies in mixing software with hardware; I plan to continue working in this direction.